Achieving the Dream Recognizes Community Colleges as Exemplars

ATD Network Institutions Named 2017 Leader Colleges

Silver Spring, MD (November 1, 2017) – Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced eight community colleges in the ATD Network have earned Leader College status, a designation awarded to institutions that have shown three years of steady improvement in two outcomes that measure student success.

“Becoming a Leader College requires an ATD Network college to have data that shows concrete progress toward building a student-centered culture that drives gains in student success,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges have to be willing to work differently to improve students’ educational journeys, and I’m proud to recognize the colleges that are living their commitment to change and are achieving stronger results.”

For example, some of the 2017 first-time Leader Colleges reported improved student outcomes such as:

  • An increase in the three-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time degree/certificate seeking students from 32 percent to 37 percent over a three-year period;
  • An increase in the percentage of students who attempted gateway math from 19 percent to 35 percent and an increase in the percentage of the cohort who completed gateway math from 14 percent to 27 percent;
  • An increase in the success rate to 75 percent following adoption of a new approach to pre-college math;
  • An increase in completion of gateway math in a co-requisite model from 68 percent to 82 percent; and
  • An average completion rate for a new co-requisite reading and writing course of 78 percent compared to completion rates of 47 percent for reading and 63 percent for writing when the courses were separate.

Leader Colleges are eligible to compete for all grant-funded learning initiatives and are encouraged to provide leadership and support to other colleges in the ATD Network, disseminate lessons learned, support state and national efforts to advance the student success agenda, and continue to improve student outcomes.

Leader Colleges also have been winners of ATD’s annual Leah Meyer Austin award, a $25,000 prize for an ATD institution that takes whole-college approaches to improving student success and achieves notable increases in student outcomes.

The colleges that earned Leader College status for the first time in 2017 are:

  • Athens Technical College (GA)
  • Big Bend Community College (WA)
  • Community College of Allegheny County (PA)
  • Edmonds Community College (WA)
  • Housatonic Community College (CT)
  • Stanly Community College (NC)
  • Wallace State Community College (AL)
  • West Georgia Technical College (GA)

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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